On Monday, the NFL handed out its compensatory picks for the 2009 draft. They were awarded to teams that lost more in terms of free agency than they gained in the previous season.
The Chicago Bears were awarded three picks, one of which is the 99th overall pick, which will come late in the third round.
For that reason, the Bears need to consider a draft day trade.
While compensatory picks cannot be traded, if the Bears were to package their second and third-round picks—49 and 84, respectively—they would be able to trade their way to the top of the second round, assuming the presence of a willing trade partner. Their new compensatory pick would still give them a selection in the third round, albeit very late.
While Bears fans may not be able to agree on whether offensive tackle or wide receiver is the more pressing need, they can agree that both need to be addressed early in the draft.
Trading up would give them a tremendous opportunity to come away with a quality pick at both positions—or to pick up a bonus buy at another position.
An early second-round pick would give the Bears a chance to pick up falling stars. Given the uncertainty and fast changes that come with the draft, it would not be outside the realm of possiblity for defensive end Michael Johnson (Georgia Tech), quarterback Josh Freeman (Kansas State), or wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (North Carolina) to slip out of the first round.
Ohio State's Brian Robiskie and Kenny Britt of Rutgers are both high-profile receivers who are projected to head off of the board early in the second round. West Virgina's Pat White would be a poor quarterback choice for the Bears, but he could potentially transition to wide receiver in the NFL.
Massive Oklahoma offensive tackle Phil Loadholt has already been rumored to be a target of the Bears. Oregon's Max Unger would likely not start at center as a rookie for the Chicago, but would be a wonderful addition to the interior line. Both are expected to be second round picks.
The trade-off, of course, is essentially not having a pick for the majority of two entire rounds, a time during which the Bears could potentially bolster their defensive needs in a draft that will find their fanbase so focused on the offense.
Trading up may not be prominent in the recent history of the Chicago Bears, but, if played correctly, it could be a career-saver for Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo during a period in the NFL in which the tolerance for failure is at an all-time low.